Canning and freezing are popular ways to preserve foods, especially summer’s bounty. They’re both ways to prevent waste and save money. But things can go wrong, and sometimes your efforts to can and freeze don’t turn out too well. Here are some tips for successful canning and freezing.
Foods of the Season
For the best bet at success, preserve seasonal, local foods. They are fresher, and may be more nutritious. Seasonal foods grown locally are also less likely to be sprayed with preservatives and other chemicals to protect them during long shipment. In short, they are just better quality food, and high-quality, fresh foods keep their color and texture well.
If you are freezing fresh food, blanching the food before freezing it can up your success rates considerably. To blanch foods, dip them in boiling water for a few minutes, then remove them quickly and plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking process. You can also blanch by steaming before the ice water bath. Sources say that blanched foods keep their color, flavor, and texture better than those that are frozen when raw.
The importance of cleanliness in preserving foods – especially canning – cannot be overemphasized. It’s vital that you follow your canning recipe closely and that you update it. For instance, old recipes may call for a hot water bath when pressure canning is really the only way to be sure the germs are killed. Make sure you use sterilized jars, jar tops, funnel, and tongs.
Getting the air out of preserved foods is essential. In canned goods, you can tap the bottom of the jar sharply on the kitchen counter to release air bubbles. Draw the air out of plastic zip top bags with a straw.
If there is a sale on produce at your local market or grocery store, canning and freezing are excellent ways to keep that wonderful money-saver from going to waste.
For freezing foods, the colder the temperature, the better. This means that you may need to invest in a case freezer rather than using your refrigerator’s freezer. Case freezers keep the temperature lower than the average fridge freezer, and the colder the temperature, the longer the food can be kept. Sources say it’s a myth that very cold temperatures cause freezer burn. Freezer burn actually happens when the food dries out partially.
Preserve in Small Batches
Success is more likely if you do a small batch at a time. Food also has less time to harbor bacteria if you’re working with small amounts.
It’s frustrating when you’re in the middle of a canning or freezing project and you find you need a piece of equipment. And then you may not be able to find it! Gather all your necessary equipment together before starting.
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